Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Moral Tales: A Program on Making Choices for Grades 2-3

Activity 4: Story Integration - Barking Dog Game

Part of Moral Tales

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Chime, rain stick or other sound instrument (optional)

Preparation for Activity

  • Write "justice is fairness" on a piece of newsprint. Hang it where the children can see it.

Description of Activity

Point to the newsprint and read aloud what you've written. Ask the children whether it was fair or unfair that some of the people in the kingdom had lots of food and some people had very little. Say, in your own words:

In our story, the dog barked because she wanted justice for everyone. She barked to make things fair. She was a watchdog for justice.

In our Unitarian Universalist Principles and Purposes we say that we believe there should be justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, and that we want a world community with peace, liberty and justice for all. One of the things that those principles mean is that Unitarian Universalists think fairness is very important. We believe that when things aren't fair, it's important for us to be like the dog and speak up and try to make things fair.

Explain that you are going to play a game where the children will be watchdogs for justice. Tell them you will name different situations and if something sounds unfair they should bark. You may wish to use your chime, rain stick or other sound instrument as a signal to stop the barking. Start and stop a practice round of barking, before you begin.

Read a situation. If there is any barking, ask the children why they think the situation is unfair. Then engage them in trying to discover ways to make the situation more just.

If there is disagreement about whether something is fair or unfair, give the children a chance to express the different viewpoints.

Use these situations, or add your own:

  • In a classroom, a teacher always calls on the same child to answer questions.
  • Nancy is three years old and she goes to bed at 7:30 in the evening. Her older brother is eight years old and he goes to bed at 8:30. (You may want to point out that sometimes different people have different needs and so they don't get treated in exactly the same way. What's fair in this situation is making sure each child gets the amount of sleep they need.)
  • A boy is teased because he wears glasses.
  • One boy has lots of lego sets. Another boy has no legos but he has lots of books. (This could be unfair if either boy is unhappy with what he has but can't change it.)
  • Some schools in the United States get lots of money and can buy lots of books and computers and have a lot of field trips for their students. Other schools don't have as much money so the children have to share books and some do not get to learn or use computers or go on field trips.
  • Linda lives in a very big house. She has her own bedroom and a big backyard with a swimming pool. Chris lives in a small apartment with his mother, father, and three brothers. All of the boys share one small bedroom and they are not allowed to play outside because there is no backyard.
  • Jacob's family has a big dinner and a different dessert every night. Tammy's family has sandwiches for dinner or soup from a can almost every night, and hardly ever has dessert, because they cannot afford to buy much food.
  • Mary has peanut butter and jelly for lunch. Jasmine is eating tuna fish.
  • Some people live in a city or village where they can take a shower or water their plants or have a drink of water whenever they want. Other people live in a city or village that has not enough clean water, so they cannot water their plants every day and they might get sick from the water they drink.
  • Jamal had a big party and received lots of presents for his birthday. Mary's family did not have enough money to give her a party or buy her presents.
  • Leslie and Peter are sister and brother. Their mom took Leslie and three of her friends to see a movie. Then Peter had three of his friends come for a sleepover.

This activity gives participants an opportunity to think critically about fairness and justice, identifying unjust situations. Acting as watchdogs reinforces the idea that we are all responsible for acting in response to injustice.

Including All Participants

There is likely to be economic disparity within the group, and possibly extreme disparity such as a particularly wealthy child alongside a child who is living below the poverty line. Be careful to avoid language that assumes all participants have a common situation and common experiences, such as "we live in big houses," or "we all have lots of food to eat."